Divorce After Dementia: A Pending Legal Question in Florida

A Florida man suffering from dementia is battling for his right to divorce his wife of 15 years. The case has brought up serious questions about laws regarding mental capacity and intent in individuals with symptoms of cognitive decline.

The couple in question was married in 2000 after seven years of dating. He is now 87 and has trouble remembering what year it is and who is president of the United States. His wife is 80 and currently serves as the beneficiary of his $10 million in assets and property.

The three adult children of the man are petitioning for the divorce. They claim that their father was being neglected and abused by his wife while in her care. Several caretakers support these claims. The couple’s friends paint another picture, however, and assert that the two shared a happy union of more than two decades. His wife argues that the adult children are falsifying claims against her in an attempt to remove her as a beneficiary. The case has turned into a bitter battle with a declining man, who no longer recognizes the woman he called his wife, at the center of it all.

The case has triggered the citation of a little-known law that makes it illegal to get divorced within three years of one spouse being declared mentally incompetent. The law is generally used in situations in which a person has become incapacitated for some reason, and his or her spouse wants to leave. This law protects the incapacitated person from being abandoned. However, it is rarely at issue in cases when the incapacitated person is the one seeking the divorce.

Although your divorce may not involve issues as complex as the ones surrounding this particular cases, it’s a good idea to work with a skilled family law attorney at Florida’s the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras to protect your rights and best interests.

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